If you're a long time NES player then you might recall a game called Adventures of Lolo. You might remember its star, Lolo, (a little blue something-or-other) whose mission to rescue Princess Lala (a little pink something-or-other) took him through room after room of floor after floor of a giant tower reaching all the way up to the clouds, eventually (if you were really good at solving puzzles, at least) finding his princess at its very top. You might also recall that it had a couple sequels released for the system not all that long thereafter. What most weren't aware of at the time was that Adventures of Lolo was just the latest installment in a larger series called Eggerland, which by that time had already well established itself in its native Japan.
Eggerland got started with an inaugural release for MSX computers back in 1985. That was followed with another installment for the same platform before receiving sequels for both Famicom Disk System and Famicom - all before it ever reached American shores (though Europe got both MSX titles). The series didn't end after the NES trilogy, either. There was also a relatively little known game for the monochrome Game Boy before the series went back to Japanese exclusivity with a couple of releases for Windows PCs. The franchise actually lasted a full decade and a half, only being retired after a final installment in 2000.
Ever since its initial release, the three NES titles have been some of the system's most beloved puzzle games. And with such a long history, it's hard to figure out why the series has been neglected in recent years. This is especially puzzling when considering that it was made by Nintendo's second party developer HAL. Nintendo is the same company that released several Game & Watch compilations and a Balloon Fight sequel for DS, so they're not exactly the company to simply abandon a successful IP. But Eggerland was one of their longest running franchises, and it's almost like they've forgotten about the thing entirely.
Fortunately, the series has left behind nine of the best puzzle games ever. What the series is not, however, is particularly diverse. If you recall just how similar the NES games were to each other then you'll have an idea of how little the franchise changed with each installment. That's not to say that the puzzles themselves were all the same, though - just the opposite. They're actually some of the most remarkably well crafted puzzles in the genre. And all due to some brilliantly simple mechanics.
The Eggerland titles are those kinds of games where everything revolves around one very basic, constant concept. Each puzzle begins with Lolo inside of a small room that invariably fits neatly onto one single screen. Regardless of what exactly it was that got him there to begin with, Lolo needs to get out of whatever room he happens to be in at any given time, and the only way to do that is to nab the contents of a treasure chest that's located in there. But to do that he has to open it first, and the only way that's gonna happen is if he grabs a bunch of tiles called Heart Framers (Diamond Framers in Eggerland Mystery), which are scattered throughout the room. But here's where it gets tricky: Lolo's not in there alone. Various monsters populate these rooms, too, and if he crosses paths with one then he's got to start the room over again - until he runs out of lives. Luckily, sometimes grabbing a Heart Framer will grant Lolo a couple magic shots, with which he can temporarily encase said beasts in giant eggs. And the rooms themselves are veritable mazes, where a misstep can get you stuck and force you to restart.
Four of the more common monsters in the series are the snakes, the medusas, the skulls, and the dragons. The medusas turn you to stone if you cross their path, forcing you to put something between them and Lolo for him to get past. On the other hand, the skulls won't do anything until after you grab the last of the room's Heart Framers - at which point, they start to chase you down. The dragons will also only wake up after you grab the last of the Heart Framers, but then they shoot (avoidable) fireballs in your direction if you cross their path. Then there are the snakes, who just don't do anything at all, making them nothing more than fodder for your magic shots. But what a snake can do (after it's been egg-ified) is block a medusa, a skull, or a dragon (or anything else). And therein is the real brilliance of the series. The trick to solving the puzzles is finding out how all of the parts interact.
And the depth of the puzzles doesn't end there. Several other monsters (like the armadillos, the Domo-kun look-a-likes, and the hopping lizards) are mobile at all times, adding a real-time element to many of the puzzles' solutions. And the terrain has to be given just as much consideration as the monsters. For example, a boulder will protect you from anything, but can't be moved, whereas a tree acts the same way, except that it doesn't provide protection from medusas. By moving an egg over water you can cross single space gaps or float down the current (if there is one) as if on a raft. There's also sand (which slows down Lolo, but not the monsters), grass (which only Lolo can cross), and arrow tiles (which can't be crossed from the direction that they're pointing toward), among a couple others. Once in a while you'll find tools to help you out, namely a hammer (to break a single boulder), a bridge (to cross the water once), or an arrow (to change the direction of an arrow tile).
Most of the titles have little or no story told in-game, but there's always some kind of tale that's at least contained in the instruction manual. Each installment actually has its own plot, but the gist of what goes on over the course of the larger series is this: There are these two kingdoms, Eggerland and Eden Land. Eden Land is awesome, whereas Eggerland is miserable. The king of Eggerland - King Egger - comes to Eden Land one day and kidnaps Princess Lala, daughter of King Eden. Some craziness that makes no sense whatsoever happens, and a guy named Lolo saves the day. So then Lolo and Lala - mutually drawn to each other because of their oddly similar names - get hitched and live happily ever after. But taking a hint from Bowser, King Egger returns many a time to kidnap the same princess and take over the same kingdom, each time having his plans foiled by the very same Lolo.
Out of the ten releases (nine different games and a port) in the Eggerland franchise, only the three NES games made it to America. Europe saw three others, and Japan got all but one of them. Despite the Japanese exclusivity of several of the titles, there's no text during any of the actual puzzles, so they're all fully playable without any language knowledge. The games are practically all the same thing, but there are still a few differences between the episodes.
Eggerland - Adventures of Lolo Website A fan site devoted to Eggerland (archived).
The Eggerland Series Another look at the lineage of the series.